A team led by scientists at University of British Columbia highlights the impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans and marine life. Two scenarios were analyzed. One followed the changes that would arise if the world banded together to significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions; the other summarized impacts 100 years from now if we’d go on with business as usual. The report outlines the consequences under each scenario and found immediate action is required if we’re to avert at a catastrophic outcome, particularly regarding the planet’s oceans.
The Great Barrier Reef, which stretches 2,000km (1,200 miles) along the coast, is the world’s largest living ecosystem. Environmental groups are pushing to get the reef listed as “in danger” by the UNESCO, so that the Australian government would have to work harder to protect it from various dangers such as pollution, dredging, fishing and so on. The UN says this
We seem to be losing the war on elephant poachers, but a new toolset that involves tracing slaughter hotspots in Africa based on DNA taken from ivory might be exactly what law enforcement needed all these years. This way, researchers at University of Washington, in collaboration with INTERPOL, found that most of the ivory seized since 2006 originates in just two areas.
Geological evidence indicate that our planet has seen five mass extinction cycles since life first appeared on the planet. While they sound like the kind of cataclysmic events that only beardy men with huge boats survive through (read that in a book once, so it must be true), they are actually an integral part of life. The cycles free up
This Friday, the International Whaling Commission issued a report in which it states Japan has failed to provide any reasonable explanation for its mass killing of over 4,000 whales in the Antarctic for the past 12 years. The country says it’s hunting whales for research purposes, but clearly it’s all a front. A lame excuse. Unimpressed by the report, Japan officials claim there’s a debate and lack of consensus (not really), and even though it “acknowledges” the IWC position it will likely continue as before. In other words, they don’t care.
We tend to think of the Earth’s water as an inexhaustible resource; after all, you learn the basic water cycle in first grade – water moves from the rivers to the oceans and then evaporates into the atmosphere and then it comes back as rain – so how could it be disappearing? Well, the reality is much more complex than that, and as two different studies showed, we may actually be heading towards a major water crisis.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports it has classed all chimpanzees, whether captive or wild, under the Endangered Species Act. Previously, chimpanzees kept captive in labs for biomedical research, entertainment or as pets were classed as “threatened”.The USFWS director Dan Ashe agrees that this has transmitted an erroneous mixed message to the public. Whether captive (and hopefully cared for) or living in the wild, all chimps belong the same species, and this species is definitely endangered and in dire need of help.
There are some important issues nowadays in which scientists and laymen seem to disagree on. For instance, there’s climate change. While the world’s leading climate scientists agree with 95% confidence (very very very likely) that the world’s climate is changing in an accelerated manner due to greenhouse emissions as a result of human activities. But only 50% of Americans agree that global warming is happening and is caused by humans. Then there’s the age old Darwinism vs creationism schism. A major survey found that 31% of the US public believed that humans had existed in their present form since the beginning, with a further 24% stating that humans had evolved under the guiding hand of a supreme being. In contrast, only 2% of AAAS scientists said humans had not evolved in their time on Earth. Of course, then there’s the case of doctors vs so-called anti-vaxxers – people who refuse to vaccinate themselves or their children because they think these cause illness, not ail or prevent it. But maybe one of the most heated debate in which scientists and the public is mostly opposed concerns genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Some 120,000 critically endangered saiga antelopes were killed by a mysterious disease since mid-May in Kazakhstan, where 90% of the population lives. A third of the endangered saigas died in this sudden lapse that is still leaving veterinarians and researchers in the area scratching their heads. In the past two decades, the long-nosed antelopes went through a number of similar tragedies, both at the hand of disease and over-hunting.
The number of hungry people worldwide has dropped to 800 million, down from a billion more than a quarter century ago. Progress in Latin America and East Asia accounts for the massive reduction in the number of undernourished people, but the UN warns there are still many challenges that need to be overcome if world hunger is to end by 2030. The report proposes rich countries divert more of their resources to poorer environments, while vulnerable countries need to invest more in social protection schemes, incentives for rural areas and promote peace in conflict ridden countries like those in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest level of undernourishment in the world – almost one in four people there do not have access to enough food.